As applications become more and more dynamic, understanding their evolution over time with 1-second granularity becomes a necessity. Especially in container-based microservice environments, where containers may live only for seconds or minutes, it is important to understand what state the whole system was in when a certain problem occurred. The Instana timeline, along with the timeshift feature, enable just that.
The default view for an environment is monitored live, updating each second with new information. A rolling duration is applied to the live view in order to visualize events (changes, issues, or incidents) temporally.
The timeshift feature allows us to go back in time using either a time range or specific historic moment. The foundation of our timeshift feature is the full persistence of the Dynamic Graph including all the historic changes. This way an accurate graph for each point in time can be calculated.
A specific time range that is applied as a filter to all data within Instana. This can be specified by a start and end datetime, or when as a rolling duration from the present time.
The act of viewing an environment at a historic point in time. Selecting a point in the timeline actives a timeshift.
Interface element within the timeline used to specify a selected moment
The selected moment is the timestamp at which the time picker is located
The time window is defined by the currently set boundaries of the timeline
When Instana is first opened, the user is presented with the collapsed timeline in live mode ticking by at every second, with a total span of ten minutes. The two objects lit up in blue are the Live Button on the left, and the timepicker on the right:
In collapsed view, only Incidents are shown coming down the pipeline, as indicated by the yellow symbol in the above example. The total span of the timeline can be adjusted in the bottom left with the magnifying glasses and slider, or by mouse scrolling within the timeline.
Clicking the ”+” on the left side of the timeline will expand it out to show Incidents, Issues, and Changes all in their own lanes. Each of these different types have different symbols, with severity indicated with the appropriate color:
When an Incident is clicked, a flyout will pop up over the Infrastructure Map with a breakdown of the different metrics involved. It can be expanded out to show more data by clicking on the event box at the bottom of the flyout. Event View will open a dashboard with a tabulated view of individual processes:
If an event or component is selected on the Infrastructure Map, the related events on the timeline will become highlighted compared to their neighbors. This enables the user to understand recurring patterns and escalations.
The timepicker enables users to shift their view of the Infrastructure Map backwards through time. Simply clicking anywhere along the timeline itself will bring Instana out of live mode and display the Infrastructure Map as it was at the selected time, which is shown at the top left of the timeline:
As shown above, any entities affected by incidents during the selected time will be highlighted in the infrastructure according to their health status. However, Instana users are not limited to examining a single moment in the past.
Instana’s Dynamic Focus function enables the user to filter for a given search query across the entire Instana platform. The timeline is included in this scope as well.
Below is a screenshot of a typical Instana timeline. Even though only two open issues are present, there are lot of accompanying changes.
Below is a screenshot of the timeline with a search query of
event.state:open AND event.type:issue, applied as seen in the top of the shot. All changes and issues that do not relate to that specific query are not presented, though Instana will continue to track them. The missing changes will immediately revert if the query is removed. Moving the timepicker will automatically apply the filter to the new selected time as well.
Instana’s timeline has a capability that allows users to select a time range that enables them to isolate a customizable span of time for closer inspection of application behavior. Once this range is set, the user can also shift the timepicker to specific moments through the range.
Access the time range function with the Set Time button at the top left of the timeline:
This will produce a flyout where you can toggle live mode on or off. Because live mode is constantly moving, the UI has a preset window size down to a minute for the user to select.
If users toggle live mode to off, they will be able to define a custom timeframe in the past. They can specify a date and time range down to the second, as well as defining a specific moment, down to the second, within that range:
- From: Defines the left range of the timeline;
- To: Defines the right range of the timeline;
- Selected Moment: Defines the concrete time of the selected moment. If this time is outside the range of from and to, users will receive a note. It can be subsequently adjusted with the timepicker.
As an alternative, the interactive calendar can be used for quicker date selection: